It might have been years since they pulled on footy boots, but over the weekend the Men of League proved still they have what it takes.
The Men of League Foundation’s Tackling the Drought Tour brought five buses of rugby league greats travelling drought stricken areas of NSW.
Ben Elias, Daryl Brohman, Rod Maybon, Paul Smith, Manoa Thompson, Paul Clarke, Greg Brentnall, Ron Ryan, Bruce McGuire, Arthur Kitinas, Kevin Hastings, Chris Mortimer, Matt Goodwin and Ron Pilon arrived in Griffith on Friday before hitting Rankin Springs and Narrandera.
“We’ve come out to the country to engage with the people to give them a bit of confidence and put a smile on their face,” Elias said.
Elias said the tour wasn’t just about supporting rugby league but the entire community.
He said in drought it wasn’t just the farmers which faced an uphill battle, but the communities which support them.
“It’s all about community, it’s the country people, they’re the backbone of our game and sometimes they get neglected,” Elias said.
“Now more than ever, they don’t need rugby league people, they need people to come here and reinforce that we’re here for you.”
Darryl ‘The Big Marn’ Brohman said the tour was a chance to reinforce that the drought was still impacting regional communities and raise a bit of extra money for people affected.
“We all want to pitch in and do our bit to try and help our fellow Aussies who are doing it tough, we all know how tough you are doing it,” Brohman said.
He said during drought there was no escape for farmers, who often carried the burden of heritage, and who saw the crops failing to grow or animals going hungry.
“When you’re working in the city you go to work and you come home and you’re away from it,” he said.
Brohman said idea behind the Tackling the Drought Tour was to tell country people that the “city-slickers” were thinking of farmers and regional communities.
“They are concerned, they want them to come through this, it’s hard.”